Indian deacons find universal church in Toronto

By 
  • May 28, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Becoming a deacon is more than a way station on the road to priesthood for Vijai Amirtharaj and Jinto Mathew.

“It’s an important stage of our formation and our lives so far. It’s a stage when we are integrated into church ministry,” Amirtharaj said. “It’s part of the whole journey. It’s mystery.”

“It’s not my mission, but it’s the mission of the church,” adds Mathew.

Mathew and Amirtharaj were ordained deacons at St. Ann parish just east of downtown Toronto in the Riverdale neighbourhood May 24. The pair of Holy Cross men from India were ordained by Archbishop James MacDonald, archbishop emeritus  of St. John's, Nfld., also a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

After three years of study for a Master of Divinity at Regis College, the Jesuit graduate faculty of theology in Toronto, Amirtharaj and Mathew can be counted as part of the generation which has grown up in a globalized church.

“Even in India, we are faced with multiculturalism,” said Mathew.

In Toronto Amirtharaj and Mathew experienced a new level of multiculturalism. In residence at St. Ann’s, their parish is wedged between one of Toronto’s three major Chinatowns and Little India, just a few blocks to the east. The student lounge at Regis displays dozens of flags representing the home countries of the college’s globe-spanning student body.

“To experience that one church, that universal church,” was a particular blessing of the three years in Toronto, said Mathew.

The pair of new deacons are due to begin their pastoral year at St. Kevin’s, a Holy Cross parish in Welland, Ont. At the end of their pastoral year both men will return to India for priestly ordination.

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